Dinner at Henri’s Cheese and Wine

As a devoted disciple to all things cheese and wine, I have been a ready-made fan of Henri’s Cheese & Wine since it opened, and now with a newly added dinner menu, there is even more to love about the South Lamar eatery. Henri’s Cheese and Wine has always offered an expanded lunch menu, but until recently, it shifted to a cheese, charcuterie, and wine spot come nightfall. However, a few months ago, Henri’s began test driving the idea of adding dinner by offering a series of regular nighttime specials, including its ever-popular burger and spaghetti and meatball nights. Now with Chef Keegan Archer at the helm, Henri’s new dinner menu features a diverse range of rustic yet modern small plates created using seasonal, local ingredients.

 

White Bean Dip & Seasonal Vegetables

White Bean Dip & Seasonal Vegetables

On this visit, we started with a white bean and crudité plate, which was more delicious than any such vegetable/dip dish should be thanks to an unexpected smoky flavor on the vegetables. Up next was a beautifully roasted quail dish served on top of a farro salad. The tender, juicy quail was delicious on its own but even more so when combined with the seasonal salad of fresh figs, thinly sliced cucumber, fresh herbs and goat cheese crumbles.

 

Roasted Quail and Farro Salad

Roasted Quail and Farro Salad

Continue reading Dinner at Henri’s Cheese and Wine

Brunch at La V Austin

With its glamorous, eclectic décor, warm service, and access to free flowing wine, spending Sunday brunch at La V is a must, especially when there is something to celebrate. Since La V falls into the higher end category of restaurants in Austin, visiting during brunch is a great way to sample goods on a smaller budget, especially with their recently added $12 bottle of rosé brunch special. And while the rosé special might have coax you in the door, it’s everything else – from the service to the food – that will entice a return visit, as proven by a recent leisurely Sunday spent at the east side restaurant.

Brioche Donuts - $11

Brioche Donuts – $11

Our meal started and finished on a high note, bookended by two ridiculous orders of La V’s brioche donuts. Light and airy on the inside and coated in cinnamon sugar on the outside, the donuts are perfection. Though the donuts, created from twice-proofed brioche, hardly need any help, La V ups the anti by serving them with a freshly made berry jam and vanilla bean pastry cream dipping sauce on the side.

The straightforward presentation of three high quality cheeses, fig preserves and crackers was another winning way to start the meal. I am not the hugest fan of soft, pungent cheeses, so I was pleasantly surprised to find La V’s plate offered a selection of three crowd pleasing yet interesting cheeses rather than sticking to an all-French lineup.

Cheese Plate - $12

Cheese Plate – $12

Continue reading Brunch at La V Austin

Blackbird & Henry

In the mix of this springs many restaurant openings, Chef Mark Schmidt opened Blackbird & Henry just north of West Campus, offering upscale quality eats in a neighborhood environment. Prior to relocating to Austin, Chef Schmidt was the former owner and executive chef of the much-lauded Café 909 restaurant in Marble Falls. Having been once since it opened, Blackbird & Henry had been very much on my list of places to return. After hearing rave reviews from coworkers reporting back after I had recommended it, I decided it was high time to revisit the restaurant – this time during the newly added lunch service.

Salmon Ceviche - $12

Salmon Ceviche – $12

We started with a promising sounding salmon ceviche marinated with charred tomatoes and jalapenos off the day’s specials menu. Though I expected a little more kick from the jalapenos, the tomatoes added an unexpected depth to the dish. A tad more lime wouldn’t have hurt, but overall it was a solid start to our meal. Moving on to the main event, we opted for the Smoked Trout Salad and the Blackbird Burger.

Smoked Trout Salad - $11

Smoked Trout Salad – $11

The combination of smoked trout and hardboiled duck egg with crispy green beans and endive created a dish that was both refreshing and hearty. The whole grain mustard dressing gave it that perfect tangy kick which added a nice depth to the dish. Continue reading Blackbird & Henry

#AustinRW Budget Eats: Austin Restaurant Week 2014

Happening now, Austin Restaurant Week provides the perfect way to test the waters at a new restaurant or visit an old favorite without breaking the bank. Visit one of several participating restaurants during lunch or dinner to enjoy either a two-course prix fixed lunch or three-course prix-fixed dinner. Prices range from $12-17 for lunch and $27-37 for dinner. Austin Restaurant Week takes a timeout for the weekend but returns in time for Sunday brunch on May 18 through May 21. Check out the list of participating restaurants here. The best part about this week? $2 of each meal benefits . . . → Read More: #AustinRW Budget Eats: Austin Restaurant Week 2014

Procrastinators Guide to Valentine’s Day, Part II: Where to Eat

In case you have failed to notice the plethora of pink and red warning signs or the calendar reminder that was mysteriously added (thanks Apple…), this Friday is Valentine’s Day, and yes, you are officially behind the eight ball in planning. In case you’ve procrastinated (like me and this post), here are a few ways you can still win Valentine’s Day 2014 and live to fight another day.

While Friday night reservations might be hard to come by at this point, you can always make Hallmark proud by turning the V-day celebrations into a weekend long event. Start off . . . → Read More: Procrastinators Guide to Valentine’s Day, Part II: Where to Eat

Winebelly

There’s no question South 1st Street has undergone something of a metamorphous over the past couple of years. Despite a wave of new restaurants opening up and down the street, it seemed – at least for a long time – the Oltorf area was immune to the changes happening around it. That’s not to say the neighborhood was hurting for amazing places to dine with a list of options ranging from upscale spots like Sway and Lenoir to highly addictive Tex-Mex eats like Polvos and El Primo.

However, for those looking for something in the middle – that easy post-work spot to grab a good glass of wine or appetizer – the options were previously few and far between. Thanks to its reasonable prices, strong menu offerings, and relaxed atmosphere, Winebelly is now helping to fill that void while adding a little charm to Oltorf in the process.

Winebelly’s Spanish tapas-inspired food menu consists of a dozen or so small plates with price points ranging from $5-$16. We started with the cured white anchovies topped with a Spanish salsa verde. The bright flavor of the delicate, salty anchovies and herbaceous, tangy salsa made for a delicious welcome to Winebelly. Next up was an order of another traditional tapas favorite, tomato bread. The bread was soaked in a mixture of sweet tomatoes, garlic and olive oil and offset by the crunchy crust. Once again, this dish highlighted what can happen with well-executed simplicity.

Cured White Anchovies - $5

Cured White Anchovies – $5

Less successful were the pork, beef and veal meatballs, served in a nondescript tomato sauce; Continue reading Winebelly

Parkside Austin

Since opening over four years ago, Parkside has been a welcome breath of fresh air on an area of downtown Austin generally reserved for college shot bars. With the recent announcement that Chef/Owner Shawn Cirkiel will be expanding his mini restaurant empire to include the forthcoming Chavez restaurant at the Radisson Hotel, I’ve had a hankering to make a return trip to the new American eatery. Not to mention, with its laidback atmosphere and strong selection of both drinks and dishes, Parkside has generally always been a solid selection for fine dining with friends, despite a few service related ups and downs (more on that after below).

Classic Ceviche - $13

Classic Ceviche – $13

One of the highlights to visiting Parkside is its exceptional raw bar. This visit was no exception as a well-balanced, flavorful classic ceviche and a dozen deliciously briny oysters were the perfect precursor to our dinner.

Gnocchi - $11

Gnocchi – $11

Equally as successful was an order of buttery, creamy bone marrow served with mixed greens, rock salt and freshly grilled bread. Continue reading Parkside Austin

Eden East at Springdale Farm

Located on the grounds of Springdale Farm, Eden East offers multi-course menus inspired by seasonal, farm-fresh produce grown just a stone’s throw away. Eden East’s natural ambiance capitalizes on the picturesque setting of its surroundings. Set under a canopy of branches, the rustic ‘dining room’ is a long horseshoe of tables, which open to the restaurant’s mobile kitchen. Adding to the charm is a collection of chandelier-inspired lights floating overhead.

Eden East

Eden East

With locavore dining all the rage these days, it was only a matter of time before someone cut out the middleman and brought the actual table to the farm. It certainly comes as no surprise the force behind Austin’s first permanent farm restaurant is Chef Sonia Cote (Hillside Farmacy/East Side Showroom), for whom sourcing locally is not merely a passing food trend, but rather at the core of who she is as a chef.

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Cheese Board

I recently had the opportunity to experience Eden East during a tasting event that included small bites of dishes one might find at a typical dinner. The star of the evening for me, of course, was a ridiculously delicious cheese and charcuterie board consisting of housemade jams and cured meats. The good bites continued with a bok choy salad drizzled in lemon olive oil and topped with house smoked pork jowl. Continue reading Eden East at Springdale Farm